Chamber’s mural a beautiful addition to a vibrant art community

The Wichita Falls Chamber unveiled its mural on June 22nd in the lobby of its new location in the Hamilton Building on the corner of 8th & Lamar.  Artist Aaron Campbell showcased her vision after months of hard work to the excitement of all in attendance.

“I am so proud to finally reveal my first solo mural to the city. It’s been such a great opportunity to grow and learn from. I’m grateful to the Wichita Falls Chamber for agreeing to work with me and giving me this project. They have been so supportive of me and I am excited to be a part of their expansion. I could not have done it without the partnership of the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture as well. They are such a boon to the young artists of Wichita Falls. I hope that everyone who sees this mural will see the benefit the arts bring to our community and how important it is to the artists that are given the support they need to thrive. Please continue to support local businesses and stop by the Chamber to see my work.”

Aaron Campbell, Artist/Muralist

Hidden gems inside the mural make it a treat to peruse.

The mural features the iconic falls and contains tiny gems you’ll have to look closely to find.  The Chamber is proud to add this mural for the community to enjoy.

“We knew that we wanted the entrance to the new Chamber to be special, something that would make locals proud and visitors say “wow”.    That’s what we’ve accomplished with this new facility and the mural.  It’s truly an amazing work of art, and the fact that a local artist painted it makes it all the more special.”

Henry Florsheim, Wichita Falls Chamber CEO

The Wichita Falls Chamber encourages others to support the local arts. If you’re looking to add a mural, please contact Audra Lambert at the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture at 940-386-4729.

“Artists have a way of capturing our imaginations in a way that allows us to create our own stories. Aaron Campbell’s masterful work is full of stories and I’m proud to see this new addition join the roster of brilliant murals in our community.”

Margie Reese, Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture Executive Director

The Chamber will participate in future After Hours Artwalk events by staying open later to allow visitors to view the mural. In the meantime, the community is welcome to visit the Chamber lobby during business hours Monday-Friday. 

Virtual spec buildings released to encourage new business

The Wichita Falls Chamber partnered with BYSP Architects to create virtual spec buildings for economic development and business attraction. 

Wichita Falls has many fantastic amenities available for economic development, but when it comes to available buildings for potential new businesses, the inventory needed for site consultants and businesses looking to move or expand their operations wasn’t there.

This created an opportunity to work with a local architect firm to create more options for Wichita Falls. Dick Bundy and his team at BYSP Architects worked tirelessly to provide virtual renderings along with timelines for completion.

“Our design team developed standardized buildings to meet the strictest demands of the industrial, manufacturing and distribution world.  By having the design ready and virtually presented, the Chamber of Commerce now has a tool that can show prospects a vision of their future home and the timeline to complete.  In a digital world, this effort provides a powerful tool for Economic Development and immediately shows prospects the progressiveness of our community, “  said Dick Bundy FAIA  with  CEO/Sr Principal BYSParchitects.

The Virtual Spec buildings are designed for the Industrial Business Park, located on HWY 287 at 2800 Fisher Road. Each rendering visualizes the possibilities for a company to stand up a business at 30,000 square feet with the option to expand later to 60,000 square feet or start at 60,000 square feet with options to expand to 120,000 square feet.

The Chamber’s V.P. of Business Attraction David Leezer has begun showcasing this tool to site consultants and the response has been fantastic. Consultants appreciate the visual and the complete information regarding construction costs and timelines.   One said, “the spec building pricing documents/renderings are truly unique and something I have not seen in 6 years of doing this and countless interactions with economic development commissions like yours – they have already been useful in explaining the project to the client.”

Having this tool continues to show Wichita Falls means business and allows us to compete with some larger markets.

“Part of successful economic development is being able to differentiate yourself from your competition. This virtual spec building  program definitely differentiates us,” said David Leezer, V.P. of Business Attraction at the Chamber.

You can see the virtual spec building at https://landinwichitafalls.com/virtual-spec-building/

2020 Workforce Excellence Award Winner

TEDC Announces Recipients of the 2020 Workforce Excellence Awards

The Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC) has announced the recipients of their 2020 Workforce Excellence Awards. Four recipients have been awarded the TEDC 2020 Workforce Excellence Award in their respective population categories.

The Wichita Falls Talent Partnership and Chamber won in the population category of 100,001 and above.

“A couple of years ago, this community developed a new plan to grow Wichita Falls.  Talent development is a key component of the strategy, and the Talent Partnership’s goal is to increase the size of the labor pool and help our employers find the talent they need to function effectively.  This recognition tells me that we’re headed in the right direction.”

Henry Florsheim, President/CEO of the Wichita Falls Chamber.
First meeting of the Talent Partnership Action Team with Director of the Wichita Falls Talent Partnership Taylor Davis.

The Workforce Excellence Award program recognizes exceptional contributions by a Texas community or region that has implemented successful workforce initiatives. Members of the TEDC’s Workforce Development Committee reviewed and scored the applications from the nominees based on five criteria: innovativeness, transferability, community commitment and leverage, measured objectives, and secondary benefits.

“Our TEDC’s Workforce Excellence Award is one of the ways in which our organization honors the outstanding work done by our communities and regions, their leaders, and their economic development professionals in the area of workforce development”

Carlton Schwab, President/CEO of the TEDC

The award recognized the following initiatives created in Talent Partnership’s pilot year:

Military Matters

Job Distribution List, Sheppard Military Spouse Professional Network, Military Spouse Community Tours, and Military Roundtable

Leadership Development

The Circuit – Developed and rebranded a new Young Professionals of Wichita Falls

Talent Recruitment

Relocation Incentive and the Chamber Job Board

Talent Development

Intern Wichita Falls and Custom Workforce Recommendations

“The Talent Partnership has made a lasting impact on our community and has brought new life and hope into our job-seekers, community partners, and employers. We are ready, willing and able to meet the call for workforce reform and talent.”

Taylor Davis, Director of the Wichita Falls Talent Partnership

The 2020 Workforce Excellence Award recipients are:

Population (15,001 to 40,000): Gainesville Economic Development Corporation

Population (40,001 to 100,000): Victoria Economic Development Corporation

Population (100,001 and Above): Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce

Regional Category: Workforce Solutions South Plains including Lubbock Economic Development Alliance, Plainview-Hale County Economic Development Corporation, Littlefield Economic Development Corporation, Levelland Economic Development Corporation, Idalou Economic Development Corporation, Brownfield Industrial Development Foundation and Texas Mutual Insurance Company

Ready to Develop an Internship? Consider This First!

Growing your own talent by providing on-the-job-training will give interns insight into the day-today operations of your business. This results in more efficient assimilation if a full-time offer is extended. Additionally, this offers a chance for employers to screen potential employees before investing in permanent hiring. You’re probably thinking, “Great! Sign me up,” but there are some considerations to make before you take the leap. The first step in starting any internship process is to determine the internal needs of the organization.

Consider the following before deciding to host an internship:

Will the intern be governed by an institution, such as Midwestern State University or Vernon College?

When hiring a “traditional” intern typically defined as an undergraduate student, it is important to know the requirements that their institution may have if the student is receiving credit for their internship with you. This is an important consideration to make because it may shape how your processes, such as evaluations, will take place. The good news is that this information is readily available on each institution’s website and usually responsibility for proper completion and documentation is on the student.

Bottom Line: Create your own policies around on-boarding, evaluations and duration and adjust on a case-by-case basis to accommodate the student’s needs.

Should your program be registered with the U.S. Department of Labor?

In general, individual internship programs are not required to be registered with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). However, if you are considering offering a Apprenticeship, there are significant benefits for becoming registered with the DOL. Components of a registered apprenticeship according to the DOL include: “Paid Job, On-the-Job Training, Classroom Learning, Mentorship, and Credentials.”

If you’re interested in learning more about a registered apprenticeship program, you can review the DOL’s site here.

Bottom Line: Unless you are looking to gain the leverage of a national backing of a potential apprenticeship, you don’t need to register with the DOL.

What is the scope of work that the intern will be completing?

The DOL outlines that an internship should offer a trainee both a combination of education and experience that would be similar to the hands-on training that an intern would typically learn in an educational environment. Additionally, internships should not replace a full- or part-time employee. Therefore, make sure your internship consists of legitimate tasks, projects and assignments that can benefit an intern’s education. No coffee-fetching allowed!

Still need help? Answer these questions to dig down further on what your intern will be doing:

  • What will be the daily duties of the intern?
  • What skills or level of education does your intern need to possess to participate in your workforce effectively?
  • Are there age or licensing restrictions in your organization that limit the work that can be done by an individual?
  • Will you assign a special project for the intern to complete?
  • In which department can an intern best fit, and who will be their supervisor?

Bottom Line: As long as you have quality projects to complete, you can find a quality intern to help!

Does your industry or organization require skills not typically provided in a classroom setting?

The best part of creating an internship program is the opportunity to grow your own talent pool to the exactspecifications that you need for a quality employee! Exposing your intern(s) to your processes, equipment and team creates a one-of-kind, custom-built talent pool for future full-time hires.

Bottom line: Providing a new, unique experience to an intern that can’t be learned in any other setting will greatly supplement an intern’s education and it’s no more challenging than training any other new employee.

Do you have difficulty recruiting and retaining quality employees?

An internship program, especially a long-term program, will give you the opportunity to build strong connections to your interns who understand and appreciate your business or organization. The longer an intern works within your program, the more knowledge and experience they gain about the both their job and your organization. This greatly increases their ability to function as an asset on your team if hired for full-time employment.

Bottom Line: Internships allow you to build quality future employees from the ground up, and they’ll be the easiest hire you ever make.

Can your organization or employees benefit from the help of an intern?

Let’s answer a question with a question. Can your employees benefit from any of the following advantages that an intern can bring to your organization or business?

  • Allow full-time staff the flexibility to work on higher-level projects while also gaining leadership skills.
  • Increase retention.
  • Assist in the implementation of cutting-edge techniques and new ideas
  • Maintain connections with institutions.
  • Promote community involvement.
  • Recruit other students within their program and increase pipeline prospects.
  • Allow your company to give back to the community by teaching, molding, and mentoring the prospective workforce.

Bottom line: if you answer YES to any of the above questions, an internship will be very advantageous for your business or organization.

Lastly, employers should also consider the costs to beginning an internship program, which can include wages, housing, networking activities, recruitment costs, work materials and training costs.

With both the competition and growing need for talented workforce increasing, internships allow for opportunities to recruit and retain individuals in Wichita Falls and the surrounding area. There is an intern to fit your every need at every level of education and experience.

Ready to get started? Refer to our free Employer Guide to take your step-by-step through the development process. Have questions? Email Taylor Davis, the Wichita Falls Talent Partnership Director, at Taylor@WichitaFallsChamber.com.

Read Types of Interns Part 1

Read Types of Interns Part 2

What are the different types of interns?

High School Students
Undergraduate Students
Graduate Students
Returning Workforce
Active Duty, Veterans, Military Spouses

What are the different types of internships

Internship
Co-Op
Returnship
Externship
Fellowship
Apprenticeship

Why should I hire an intern?

Flexibility
Leadership and professional development opportunities for employees
Increase employee retention
New ideas and perspectives
Connection to educators and community
Save money when compared to hiring a part-time or full-time employee

Wichita Falls tops list for lowest cost of living

Claire Kowalick | Times Record News | 5.21.20

Among the great things about living in Wichita Falls, the city took the top spot in a list of 25 United States cities with the lowest cost of living.

A study by Niche, a company gathers information about places to live, released in March, shows the North Texas city with just over 104,000 residents enjoys low rent prices and affordable housing.

About 57 percent of Wichita Falls residents own a house and 43 percent rent their homes.

The median home value in the city is $97,400 and the median rent price was $784.

The national median home value is $184,700 and national median rent is $949.

Many other Texas cities made the list including Brownsville at number two, Beaumont was third, Amarillo was fourth, McAllen was sixth and Abilene was seventh.

Many cities on the list were in the Midwest and South. Largest coastal cities such as New York and San Francisco have notoriously high rent prices and higher cost of living.

For the study, researchers took into account several factors including the median tax rates, and costs of food, gas and housing.

While cost of living does not always equal quality of life, Wichita Falls did well with an overall “A-” rating from Niche.

The city earned an A for commute time, diversity, nightlife and cost of living. It got a B for public schools, housing, “good for families,” jobs and weather. Wichita Falls lowest grades were C’s for crime and safety, outdoor activities and health and fitness.They called Wichita Falls one of the best places to live in Texas, offering a suburban feel with plenty of open space. Many people own their homes, they praised the number of parks and said the public schools were above average.

A poll by Niche about the city asked what phrase best described Wichita Falls residents. The top responses were “nice,” “very friendly and sociable,” and “family oriented.” 

See the full list of cities at: https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/search/cities-with-the-lowest-cost-of-living/.

Claire Kowalick, a senior journalist for the Times Record News, covers local government, military and MSU Texas. If you have a news tip, contact Claire at ckowalick@gannett.com.

COVERCRAFT EXPANDS PRODUCTION OF PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT IN TEXAS FACILITY

PAULS VALLEY, OKLAHOMA – April 8, 2020

Covercraft Industries is bringing their Wichita Falls production facility back online to expand the production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) due to increased demand and need during the COVID-19 crisis.

The company began PPE production in their Oklahoma facility on March 30th and the response has been heavy. “At this time in our country, the need for this equipment is crucial and the inquiries coming in have made it clear that we needed to get our Texas facility working on it,” comments Clay Callan, President and COO of Covercraft Industries.

“Our Texas employees expressed their desire to join the Oklahoma employees in the effort of producing PPE to create as much product as possible in this time of need”, added Callan.

As of the writing of this release, there were approximately 50 Oklahoma employees and 40 Texas employees brought back from furlough to produce protective gowns and masks.  

Groups or organizations in need of these PPE products should contact Covercraft by calling        (405)367-8930 or by email at covercraftppe@covercraft.com.

About Covercraft

Covercraft Industries, LLC is the leading branded manufacturer of Automotive, Marine and Recreational Vehicle protection products, as well as a market leader in outdoor protection products for Home and Garden. Covercraft’s product offerings include full vehicle covers, seat covers, front end masks, dashboard covers, window sunscreens, patio furniture and outdoor kitchen covers and other products that preserve and protect. The company focuses on custom fitment with a library that includes more than 450,000 patterns for distinct automotive and outdoor protection products. Covercraft owns additional market leading brands including ADCO, Carver, Colgan, DashMat, GT Covers, Marathon Seat Covers, Precision Fit and PCI. Licensed partnerships include, Barrett-Jackson, Carhartt, Ford, Major League Fishing, Prym1 Camo and Winnebago. Founded in Southern California in 1965, Covercraft is Headquartered in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma with additional company owned manufacturing facilities in California, Colorado, Montana, South Carolina, Texas and Mexico.

 For more information, please visit www.covercraft.com.

Jeff Jegelewicz, Director of Marketing, Covercraft Industries  jjegelewicz@covercraft.com | 405.238.9651 x9276

Midwestern State University Industry Tours

Our community identified that the age of which students are entering the workforce is one of the most critical times for local workforce development. It was also determined that retaining our homegrown talent from regional educators is vital to the economic and community growth of Wichita Falls, which it doesn’t hurt our population count either.

The Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce recently partnered with the McCoy School of Engineering at Midwestern State University during Engineering Week 2020 to showcase three local manufacturers to 14 engineering majors. Those employers were: Pratt & Whitney, Arconic and Kalco Machine and Manufacturing Co.

Our unique behind-the-scenes look at each facility helped make the connection for the students that we have high-quality employers and opportunities in Wichita Falls. The outmoded stigma of dark, dirty and dusty industry buildings was immediately replaced with immaculate, efficient facilities and supreme company culture, and we had a blast showing them off. This isn’t your great-grandfather’s factory job!

This program was unmatched in value, with each manufacturer talking about internship and post-graduation job opportunities at their facility directly to the students. Some even gave their resumes directly to management! Experiences like this promote student investment in our local businesses and community and may lead to employment opportunities in the future.

Let’s recap on all the benefits from this tour:

  • Strengthened relationships between MSU, industry leaders and the community
  • Potential population growth for Wichita Falls through post-graduation student retention
  • Recruitment pipeline for employers
  • Challenging the stigma of manufacturing jobs
  • Internship opportunities for students
  • Student investment into local business

Future tours in the business sector coming soon

It doesn’t stop there! The Wichita Falls Chamber is dedicated to moving our city and community forward through the creation of talent pipelines to bridge the gap between employers, educators, and students through a collective impact model. We are looking to expand this program to a bi-annual event that includes more MSU departments and Vernon College. To get started, we are discussing a future tour for business majors at Vernon College Century City Campus for later this year. Want to learn more about how to be involved in future tours? Email Taylor Davis.

See more on this story here.

What are the benefits of taking students on industry tours?

Strengthened relationships between MSU, industry leaders and the community
Potential population growth for Wichita Falls through post-graduation student retention
Recruitment pipeline for employers
Challenging the stigma of manufacturing jobs
Internship opportunities for students
Student investment into the local businesses
Students at Pratt Whitney

Midwestern State University mechanical engineering students tour manufacturing facilities

Lauren Roberts, Wichita Falls Times Record News

Mechanical engineering students spent their Saturday touring three manufacturing facilities around Wichita Falls.

The Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce sponsored the tours to Pratt & Whitney, Arconic, and Kalco.

“The students have the opportunity to go through these tours to see exactly what these facilities are up to, the types of jobs they do, the types of jobs they offer. And also getting that inside look at the staff that’s on hand,” Taylor Davis, director of the Wichita Falls Talent Partnership, said.

She said the tour could lead to potential internships and job opportunities. Some of the students brought along their resumes to hand out to staff at the faculties.

“We have seen a need in our community to connect our educators, employers and students/community members,” Davis said.

Mechanical engineering senior Luuk Teurlinx said it was good to see what was actually inside a company like Pratt & Whitney.

“You see on the internet what they’re doing but you don’t see how they’re doing it and what goes on in the factory,” Teurlinx said. “Definitely interesting to see and it’s good to see.”

Teurlinx said he is trying to figure out what he’s going to do after graduating and this tour can help him narrow it down.

Ijuani Stephenson liked seeing the way parts were tracked as they entered and left the facilities and how it related to the customers.

“Overall it was a very visual and hands on process of everything,” Stephenson said.

She said there has been stagnant population in Wichita Falls with the only growth in the 55-plus age group.

“Trying to retain the talent that we have at MSU as well as our homegrown talent here that was born here and raised here is really important to us,” she said.

With the success of the MSU industry tours the chamber is considering branching out and doing more tours with other majors and schools. 

“We are talking to Vernon College to see what it might look like for their business majors,” Davis said.

See the video from Newschannel 6

Progress: Chamber sees successes in 2019; just wait for 2020!

Henry Florsheim, Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce.

The year 2019 was an active one for the Chamber and for Wichita Falls. 

Several of our industrial employers expanded, including dozens of new jobs at Eagle Railcar and Tryer Processing. We’re deep into the implementation stage of the community-wide strategy to grow the city, with much of our efforts focused on growing the talent pool and improving the quality of life for our citizens. 

The Wichita Falls Talent Partnership has developed several programs designed to better connect specific groups to the business community, including military spouses and interns;  an entire series of events and programs have been implemented to strengthen ties between Wichita Falls and Sheppard Air Force Base at all levels. 

Finally, Bike Wichita Falls successfully landed a Bronze-level Designation as a Bike-friendly Community from the American League of Bicyclists. 

If you thought 2019 was busy, wait till you see 2020!  Towards the end of last year, we recruited Pamlico Air to move to Wichita Falls and purchase the former Stanley Tools building. 

The company has hired a local contractor to remodel the building, with plans to move in and hire several hundred employees over the next few months. 

Next, DuPlooy Trucking is in the process of consolidating three operations into one headquarters in Wichita Falls, while adding another hundred jobs to the economy.

The Chamber is developing a new young professionals initiative, a diversity council, a social media summit, and a downtown business recruitment program. 

Our military efforts will continue to evolve, including a Hiring Our Heroes Career Summit later this spring.  In addition, after nearly 60 years in the same spot, the Chamber is moving. 

Our new location on the first floor of the Hamilton Building at the corner of 8th and Lamar will feature a larger board room, a more modern space, a unique mural painted by a local artist and a much more welcoming, visible entrance. 

We’ll be easier for our business community and visitors to Wichita Falls to find us, and we can’t wait to show off the new space to everyone. 

Another important issue coming up is the 2020 census.  So much is riding on an accurate count – federal funding, corporate location decisions, even the perception of our city. Many signs point to population growth, including increased sales tax collections, new home construction, and traffic counts. 

Getting an accurate population assessment is vital to both practical business decisions and how our citizens feel about our city.

Possibly the most important item on the horizon involves our schools.  WFISD leadership will make their plans for a facilities election official in the very near future, and then our citizens will have a choice:  move us forward, or leave us behind. 

In my opinion, developing modern school facilities is the most important piece of our strategy.  No matter what else we do, if we don’t have modern, functional schools, we’re in trouble. 

I have faith that our citizens understand this and will make the right decision for the entire community.

Henry Florsheim is president and CEO of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce.